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Roon the Globe Nadia's trip around the world in 365 days :)

A taste of the Pantanal - our wetlands adventure!

UNITED KINGDOM | Monday, 4 July 2016 | Views [325]

So it's been a few days since we left The Pantanal for Sao Paulo and about time I updated my blog! I've not had much downtime in SP as we only had 2 full days due to travel arrangements. We probably only covered about 5% of this beast of a city but seen what we wanted to see. Anyway I plan to cover that in a separate blog, it's time for the lowdown on The Pantanal.

Planning this trip was not easy to fit into 3 weeks, especially when we both enjoy a mix of city breaks and seeing wildlife. The decision to visit the largest wetlands in the World was a toss up between that and spending 3 days at Ilha Grande (beach spot) between Rio and SP. Figuring we can do a beach holiday in Europe at any time in life we decided to see a bit of Brazil's impressive wildlife species. It was definitely the right decision! Although the journey was not an easy task into the middle of Mato Grosso state we made it after about 12 hours from Iguazu Falls - 2 flights connecting in SP and 2 taxis to the hotel. Our hotel was wrongly marked on booking.com and not in a small village as we expected but 65km further down a dirt track! I will not go into the ins and outs but we were saved by a random Brazilian tour guide based in Pocone (gateway town to the Pantanal) who got us an airport transfer to the village then personally drove us to our accommodation.

On arriving at the accommodation around 7pm we were welcomed with some fresh piranha soup which was umm tasty (even Niall the non - fish eater tried it!). We were full board with buffets at each meal time - I have probably put on about a stone in 3 days with all the cakes and rice I've consumed! There were only 6 of us staying at the hotel so it was great having some peace and quiet after all the city action. It was pretty much just us and the birds for 3 days!

Obviously the reason we trekked this far was to see some native wildlife and many say it's better than the Amazon here. The reason is you can actually see the animals and not just kilometres of dense jungle. Another benefit is we are in the dry season which means dirt tracks are passable and animals and birds can almost always be found around the nearest watering hole. They weren't wrong - on the way to our hotel we saw so many birds, including a rhea (ostrich family). Also 2 giant anteater which are supposedly hard to spot, 100s of caiman alligators and a family of capybaras (world's biggest rodent at 1 metre long). I was sold on the place before even arriving to the hotel!

The hotel was pretty basic, well probably luxury standards in these type of areas but had a lovely pool and gardens. The staff were helpful, friendly and didn't speak a word of English which made for some interesting conversations in Spanish/bad Portuguese. They arranged wee trips for us on the first day so we took a short hike early doors. This was your breakfast at 7am kinda place, as the animals are out at this time and we saw some hooded capuchins (really cute monkeys) hanging around. Later in the day we took a boat trip with the Brazilian Steve Irwin who fed a caiman with fish he had caught in the river, plus a hawk and a giant stork. I'm not much of a birdwatcher but I was blown away by the amount of species we saw and kinda turned into a spotter for 3 days, ticking each one off my list. Afterwards we were taken to a farm about 1 hour down the dirt track on the back of a jeep. They then took us on an even smaller boat (eeek loads of caiman!!) to watch the sunset which was stunning! The only bad part was it got dark and on the way back we were hit by beasties the whole way..so glad I had my scarf on to cover my mouth! The mosquitoes were, as expected, horrendous. So at dusk we had to cover up and cover ourselves in DEET repellant.

The next day was a chilled one by the pool, i was pretty thankful for that after such an action packed holiday. We could finally get some tanning done aswell!

On our last morning we were taken on an early morning horse trek. I was quite apprehensive at first given we had no protection or helmets and I'd never been on a horse as an adult, but sometimes you have to take a risk in life. It was a lovely wee jaunt for 1 hour and we saw some marsh deer hiding in the bushes on our travels. Safe to say my arse was killing me afterwards (and has been for the last 2 days since!)

Overall the Pantanal was worth the trek but the only thing I would have done differently is organise an English tour guide. I'm really not a big one for organised tours and after researching this area and seeing the expense of them we decided to "wing it". However this is one place where you can't really do that, it's the middle of nowhere and having a knowledgeable guide will help you spot things that you wouldn't ordinarily notice making it a much more worthwhile experience. We had contemplated hiring a car, thank God we never after seeing the roads - it was jeep and truck friendly only! Luckily the hotel had things planned for us otherwise we wouldn't have seen as much of the wildlife that we wanted to. It's definitely somewhere I would return to and perhaps spend a full week doing a safari, but this was a great little taster.

The next blog I'll be talking about our whirlwind trip in the concrete jungle of Sao Paulo, 3rd largest city in the world!

Tags: animals, birdwatching, brazil, caiman, farms, horseriding, jungle, pantanal, wetlands

 

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